Apple may be the only major company operating the mobile space that hasn’t announced a partnership or trial related to delivering mobile payments and creating an iWallet. While it seems a forgone conclusion that Apple will eventually enter the mobile payment market, a recent statement by James Le Brocq, managing director at O2 Money (a division of the U.K. mobile carrier O2) illustrates why Apple hasn’t yet entered the that market and why that’s a good move for Apple: consumers aren’t that interested in mobile payments.
That’s not to say that consumers won’t use mobile payments. So long as those payments are simple and secure, take no more effort than swiping a credit card, and are universally available as a payment option, consumers are likely to use them. Le Brocq’s assessment is that users don’t really care about the technical details. They’re more interested in things like whether or not they can pick up the tab for lunch with their phone and without a physical wallet.
Consumers do not have much interest in payments. They want to do things in their everyday lives conveniently: travel to work, buy lunch, buy a gift.
That’s an astute assessment and Le Brocq should know what his companies subscribers want. O2 offers a handful of digital wallet features including the ability to create digital copies of their credit and debit cards, send money, and make remote payments using their smartphones.
The key factor is that any broadly accepted mobile payment system needs to be at least as simple and easy to use as a credit or debit card. The system also needs to be as easy to manage as a credit card statement – or an iTunes Store account.
Le Brocq’s assessment lines up with Apple’s belief that its customers value quality, security, and simplicity. When it comes to mobile payments, Apple isn’t going to launch a system that doesn’t live up to those standards, partly for philosophical reasons but also for practical ones. If an iPhone can’t deliver a seamless iWallet experience, users may simply opt for an iPhone case that can double as a wallet instead.